Millipede interview in News Sentinel

Give me the details of your upcoming the Pilot Light show (start time, admission cost, etc– PL has not updated their site to include past this week as of the last time I checked).

It’s Saturday June 26th. I think most shows there start late around 10pm at the earliest. Not sure about admission costs. But the lineup is Millipede (me) and Neon Viking Funeral.

How many releases do you currently have available to the public? What are their titles and release dates?

Millipede Discography:
1. Hyrule cassette on Epicene ESR limited edition of 30 released 2008
2. Millipede & Brian Grainger Play Ancient Hylian Folk Songs split cassette on Milieu Music limited edition of 30 released 2008
3. Death Mountain full length CD released on Install limited edition of 50 released late 2008
4. Sand & Surf digital seven-inch released on Install 2009 as a free download
5. Traveling (four way split CD with Millipede/Brian Grainger/MOTH/German Shepherd) on Sunrise Acoustics/Imperfect Music released 2009
6. Halloween (compilation) released on Sunrise Acoustics 2009 as a free download
7. Full Bloom full length CD released on Install limited edition of 100 released 2010

Several of these releases such as Hyrule, Play Ancient Hylian Folk Songs, and Death Mountain are sold out and out of print at this point though.

Give me a brief history of your act. How long ago did you move away from Knoxville? How long had you been performing here before you left? What were your reasons for moving? How long have you been in Chattanooga, and how long have you been performing there? Have you performed in any other acts since moving?

I moved from Knoxville to Chattanooga in 2008. I’d been doing the Millipede stuff in Knoxville for a few years before I left. The Hyrule tape was released right before I moved. Basically, my wife, Anna Marie, is an attorney and took a job in Chattanooga. We moved there because it was the only economically viable thing for us to do at the time. I haven’t played in a band since 2003 and I haven’t been actively involved in any other music besides Millipede since 2005.

How would you describe the style of music you’re playing now? In what ways is it similar to and different from what Knoxville would recognize from your old act?

I have heard people refer to my music as noise, shoegaze, and drone – but these are all styles of music that I feel are psychedelic so that seems like a more natural descriptor to me. Unfortunately, sometimes people tend to think of jam bands or stuff from the ‘60s Haight-Ashbury scene when that word comes up. For me, Merzbow is psychedelic, and so is My Bloody Valentine, dub reggae, and Delia Derbyshire and all of that BBC Radiophonic Workshop music. It has absolutely no relation to any music I made before. It’s just a logical extension of my interests changing as I got older.

Why has the music changed in the ways it has?

I knew I didn’t want to cede control of any music I was making to anyone else and wasn’t interested in using much percussion beyond the junk cymbals in the earlier recordings. I was sick of hearing my own voice and felt like I had done what I could with it and it was becoming a limitation rather than an asset. Only one Millipede song has vocals and I wish at this point that I hadn’t been the one singing them. If there are any on future releases it definitely won’t be my voice.

What themes are present from song to song?

All of the earlier releases up through Death Mountain are based around my love for the videogame series The Legend of Zelda. I used characters and places from the games to inspire me as I was creating the music but they are only recognizable to the listener in the form of the song and album titles. The new album is loosely themed around the beauty I saw in my back yard last spring as well as stuff from my childhood. It is also related to reading Lewis Carroll books like Through the Looking Glass and wanting to present that feeling of helplessness like the one you get as a small child watching your ice cream melt onto the pavement or your dreams fade away as you get older.

Tell me about your upcoming release. Title? Release date? Who recorded it and where? Where will it be available? How are the songs on this album a departure from past work? Did you play all the instruments for the recording? How much instrumentation is on the record in comparison to your live sets?

The new album is called Full Bloom. It came out on June 12th. It was recorded in my studio at home by me using an eight track, mixing console, and some other archaic machines in the spring of 2009. It is available from the Install label at http://www.installsound.net and through me at shows. The music isn’t a departure from my past work as Millipede so much as a honing of my craft and a focusing. I worked very hard on it and I think there is a definite trajectory from the Hyrule tape to where I am now. I certainly could not have been able to make this record two or three years ago.

In comparison to the live sets there is a drastic difference. I record using a very particular setup and most of the songs have several layers of guitar so replicating that live by myself means that I rely on samples or tapes or pedals that I normally might not use to make the recordings.

What, if anything, will you do differently the next time you record a release? When do you plan to begin working on your next release? How much new material have you written since recording last?

The next album is actually completed. It should be out later this year. It is called 1982 and it’s being released by a UK label called Dead Pilot based out of Buckinghamshire. It’s the longest album I’ve recorded to date. It also has an “underwater piano” song on it.

What aspects of the new material are you proudest of? Were there any different inspirations behind the newer songs?

A considerable amount of my music is based on chance. I will record and record and then edit from the recordings. These initial recordings are improvisations that with additional layering become the songs. So I feel proud when I’m able to create something very close to what I have in mind for a song. Most of the material that ends up on the albums is stuff that comes from sessions where I might have recorded an hour’s worth of material but end up with a piece that is only two minutes because that was the only section that seemed to “work” for me. And I find that most of what I hear from these recordings that I like enough to put on the albums is stuff that I wasn’t aiming for in the first place but rather accidents that sound better or completely different than what I was originally attempting to do.

Are you ever accompanied by guest musicians? How likely are you to form a permanent backing band? Why or why not?

I might be accompanied this time but I haven’t been before. I would rather not have a permanent backing band for the same reasons I don’t want to record with a band. I would rather not relinquish control but when you work with different individuals in a live setting the results can be drastically different and I find that preferable to rote performances of songs.

What projects are you currently working on (recording, writing, touring, etc.)?

Since the follow up album to Full Bloom is complete and I basically have worked for two years solid now, I’m taking a little breather. Anna Marie and I are expecting a baby girl this fall, so we’ll be pretty busy taking care of her and figuring out our new schedules. However, I have a split release planned with German Shepherd (an ambient musician from Milwaukee, WI) and I have to start working on material for that.

What are your current goals for the act? What is the next step in its musical and/or professional progression?

I basically want to be able to continue what I’m doing for as long as I can. I want to be able to approach making this music in as many different ways as I can as well. I’d love to do well enough that I could tour a little and buy better equipment. I have actually made more money doing this and selling records than I ever did with any of my previous projects so these aren’t unattainable goals and I don’t have any delusions about getting “big” or famous. My music isn’t for everyone, I make it for myself and I feel grateful that even one other person can appreciate any beauty in it.

What obstacles are keeping you from said goals? What general obstacles have you struggled with in the past/present?

Well I have a lot of student loan debt, more than most people I know with just a bachelor’s degree by nearly double. That keeps me down for sure.

What are your most distinguishing features? What characteristics set
you apart from other acts of this area and/or genre?

I think what’s typical of artists working within the realm of noise and drone now is to create these long pieces where a riff is left to fester in a minor key in order to represent some attempt at reaching the infinite. It’s a lot of musicians that collectively are a little more enamored with SunnO))) or Sleep, that whole stoned and stretched out template.. I’d like to think that by creating songs that operate within a much tighter framework that I’m at least sidestepping that aspect of the genre. I don’t need to make 30 minute songs to get my point across. I’m not against it but I just don’t want to be another person adding to the numerous groups already exploring that avenue. Plus my music is more overtly melodic than most noise. I love all of those late ‘80s/early’90s shoegaze groups like My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Ride, and The Cocteau Twins. They all wrote actual songs. Since I don’t fancy myself a great lyricist or singer the closest I can come to working within that framework is to take the more melodic parts of it and basically scrape it until only a fraction of its original melodic content is visible through a veil of static. The only other group I felt a close kinship with as far as them making similar music is Yellow Swans (who I played a show with in 2007 at the Pilot Light). Unfortunately they recently disbanded after releasing their masterpiece/swansong – Going Places. I think ultimately we were headed in very similar directions and it was sad to me to see them go.

Why or why would you not look forward to returning to Knoxville for a show?

I have a lot of friends in Knoxville and I grew up here. I always feel like I’m coming home when I’m here. I love it and miss it. Chattanooga is a nice place too though. I guess they both have their advantages. I do love East Tennessee in general, except the summer heat. If only I could avoid that…..

Read the published article here.

Purchase your copy of Full Bloom from Install.

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